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3 Lessons From The Mayans On Career

3 Lessons From The Mayans On Career

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We are hearing a lot about the Mayan calendar. I have to admit, I have been drawn into it, too. I have read more about the Mayans this week than I did in my junior high social studies classes. It’s a fascinating culture created by a highly motivated and intelligent group of people. The Mayans thrived from 200 BC until sometime in the 9th century. (And, you thought the Rolling Stones have enjoyed a long career!)

3 Lessons From The Mayans On Career

So, what does this have to do with our careers? After all, this is a career blog. We don’t have to visit Mayan pyramids in Guatemala to learn a lesson from the ancient Mayans. And without further ado, here are my top three lessons from the Mayans.

1. Be Inventive

The Mayans were prolific innovators! Count among their credits the development of following:  concept of zero, agricultural methods still used today, black and red ink writing tools, complex construction (pyramids, arches, stucco, mortar), ball courts, urban design, and much more. Can you imagine developing the concept of zero? That is out-of-the-box thinking Mayan style!

In the dynamic global market in which we operate, we must be inventive. Look for new ways to increase profits through the development of new products and services. Find solutions to problems. Enhance procedures to boost efficiency. I’m not suggesting that you build a pyramid out of office supplies in your drawer. I challenge you to come to work each day and look at things with an open mind. Use your imagination and be inventive!

2. Network

Many say the Mayan’s growth and success was due to the development of trade routes and interaction with cultures across modern-day Mexico and Central America. This enabled the Mayans to trade goods and resources. It also fostered cultural, scientific, and artistic exchanges. These interactions benefited the Mayans as well as their trade partners.

Cooperation and networking are essential in your career. By interacting with peers you learn of new products, company news, technological advances, emerging markets, and new training opportunities. You also build relationships with people you can support and who can support you. If you’re not networking, it is like taking a walk in the dark and not knowing what’s ahead. Networking leads to exchanges and these exchanges create prosperity.

3. Protect Your Brand

In ancient Mayan courts the scribe was not just a recorder of history, he was the promoter of the king and protector of the king’s brand. In the Mayan domain, there were numerous kings. Kings’ territories were only about 30 or 40 miles in scope. Kings would sustain their rule through the loyalty of his constituents and war with neighboring kings. Bravado of writing could prevent war. Mayans were known to use the scribe to uplift the king through writing. Scribes (ancient PR practitioners) held an elevated status, evidenced by their prominence in artwork and noble dress.

You may not be protecting a palace and kingdom, but your career is your livelihood and your brand depends on it. We can equate the scribe with our modern-day use of social media. Peers, clients, and potential employers review social media to get a glimpse into our brand. What we write and upload either enhances or destroys our desired brand. Protect your brand by acting thoughtfully.

There is so much more to the Mayans than the calendar. We can adopt these three elements above to enhance our careers in 2013. Cheers to the Mayans and cheers to you in the New Year!


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Debra Wheatman

Debra Wheatman, president of Careers Done Write, is globally recognized as an expert in advanced career search techniques. She helps clients obtain highly desired interviews for competitive positions.